The cacao (often incorrectly called cocoa) or chocolate tree is found in Brazil and other parts of tropical America, and is largely cultivated throughout the tropics. The fruit is about six inches long, pear-shaped, furrowed, and contains numerous seeds imbedded in a sweet pulpy mass. The latter are three-fifths to one inch long, ovate or oblong, somewhat flattened, and vary in color, according to the manner in which they have been prepared, from brown-red to brown or grayish-brown. The odor of cacao-seeds is slight, but on warming is agreeably aromatic; their taste is oily, aromatic, and bitterish. The seeds are prepared for commerce by drying or by a sweating process. The principle constituent of the cacao-seeds is oil of theobroma or cacao-butter, which is obtained in the manufacture of chocolate by expressing the seeds between heated iron plates. Starch, fat, proteids, sugar, etc., are also components. The odorous principle of cacao appears to be somewhat volatile, but has not been isolated.


The press-cake of cacao-seed, either ground by itself or with starchy substances, is sold as cocoa.


The seeds, ground together, while warm, with about their own weight of sugar, constitute chocolate. This is usually flavored with cinnamon, vanilla or other aromatics, and occasionally various amylaceous or mucilaginous substances are added to it.